Rose, USA National Team heading to Spain


Aug 15

Derrick Rose may not have had a big game statistically speaking when the USA National Team took on France in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, but it didn’t bother him in the least.

“I feel good about how we played and we got the win. That’s the biggest thing,” said Rose of USA’s 86-55 victory, in which he recorded two points, three assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play.

“Our game today was just pushing the ball,” said Rose, who wore No. 6 and entered at the 5:35 mark of the first quarter with the USA up 6-2. “Everybody was making shots and we eventually got out to a good lead.”

The game started slowly, though, for both teams, as through one period, it was tied at 16-16.

“France played well and we had some jitters to start out the game,” said Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who leads the USA National Team’s coaching staff. “It’s the first time for most of these guys to play for our country in a game. That’s why these exhibition games are so important for us.”

Krzyzewski, who said he was pleased with his team’s defense and effort, opted for a starting lineup that consisted of Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler. Hence, Rose came off the bench, but again, he’s taking no issue with that whatsoever.

“I’m a ballplayer and I’ll continue to play,” said Rose. “My role on this team is defense and pushing the ball. When I’m in, my job is to pressure the ball so opponents aren’t comfortable bringing it up the court. There are a lot of great scorers on this team, so I don’t need to score. I’m working hard on defense and pushing people different ways, just trying to be as aggressive as I can.”

Rose’s attitude seems to reflect a team-wide state of mind as players begin to learn their respective roles now that exhibition games are finally underway after several weeks of training. Still, Coach K talked on Saturday following a scrimmage against China about the need for players to exude some swagger. He saw just that for the final three quarters on Sunday, as the Americans outscored France 70-39 during that stretch and made several highlight dunks that fired up the capacity crowd of 19, 763.

“This group is really a good group,” Krzyzewski said of the 13 finalists, which include five 21 year olds and two 22 year olds. “Intangible-wise, it’s off the charts with attitude, team and hard work. That’s a good place to start. Now, let’s get them back to what they do with the Bulls, Sixers, Clippers or whatever team they play on.

“I thought we played every play hard today,” he continued. “I thought we played every play as a team, we just weren’t very sharp offensively. You give credit to France for that too—they switched a lot, they’re a smart team, and they’re well coached. It took us a little time to get adjusted.”

Prior to Sunday’s game, USA Basketball announced that the roster had been reduced to 13 finalists, with Jeff Green of the Oklahoma City Thunder and JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards not moving on. That leaves just one more cut to determine the final 12.

When asked if the players had any indication on who will be among that group, Rose said he’s just as in the dark as everyone else.

“Not at all,” Rose said. “We’re still clueless right now, looking around and wondering who will be here. I hope I will. If not, I told them if they need a ballboy, just put me on the plane and I’m alright.”

As for what Krzyzewski would like to see out of Rose as the team heads to Madrid, Spain for four more days training and two more exhibition games against Lithuania on Aug. 21 and Spain on Aug. 22, he just wants continued improvement.

“I think Derrick is going to keep getting better,” said Krzyzewski. “He plays so hard and his ball pressure is unbelievable. He also wants it so badly that when it doesn’t happen, he’s hard on himself. That’s why he’s such a good player. He has such high standards and he wants it to be exactly right. Those are good places to be with players. I love Derrick. He’s an exceptional kid and he’s going to end up being a great player. He has to find his niche in this group right now. He’s finding it, and we have to help him a little more.”

The official USA roster that will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey, must be submitted to FIBA at the technical meeting that normally is held the day prior to the start of the competition.

“We just need to keep winning,” said Rose of the game plan until then. “We know how serious this is and how big it can be if we win the world championships.”

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